The Secretary of State to the Minister in China ( MacMurray )
111. Your No. 275, March 29, 10 a.m.; and No. 277, March 29, noon.40 These telegrams came to me late last night, the last in badly garbled form but believe we understand substance of it.
After consultation with Navy Department we think we ought to have advice from Admiral Williams regarding both telegrams and therefore have wired him your suggestions as to some of the difficulties involved, a copy of the proposed ultimatum, and the substance of your recommendations as given in your No. 277. Please repeat your two telegrams to Williams in naval code.
To us in the Department it seems that there may be danger of arousing further hostilities against Americans in the danger zones in the areas in China where Americans have not evacuated yet. There is also the question as you say whether Chiang Kai-shek would prove able to control the Nationalist army and to meet demands. Furthermore, consideration must be given to the question that in case this ultimatum is delivered to Chiang and nothing is done, the Governments concerned would be compelled to seek some kind of reprisal or take drastic action. We gravely doubt the advisability of delivering this ultimatum at the present time but suppose some formal demand for reparation and apology must be made by us either jointly or alone. Please inform us by wire what decision has been arrived at by other powers.
Because paragraph 10 of your No. 275 regarding advising Americans to hasten their withdrawal from danger zones was badly garbled, [Page 171] we do not understand it fully but would thoroughly approve your advising them to leave for places where protection can be given them.
From your No. 277 we understand that you advise sending soldiers from the Philippines. A few days ago we asked Williams for his advice and on the 28th he wired that in his opinion conditions at present did not demand army troops. Today we again asked his advice. Understand that in wire to War Department the military attaché41 concurred in your message but advised sending the soldiers to Tientsin. One thousand five hundred additional marines are en route to the coast proceeding to Shanghai. As soon as we learn the advice of Admiral Williams we will wire further to you in relation to these messages.